On December 18, a jury in Brazos County awarded $100,000 to a former employee of Fabric Care Cleaners who suffered a serious second and third degree
burn injures while working with chemicals on the job. Fabric Car Cleaners is a local dry cleaning chain that operates in the state of Texas.
After the jury deliberated over the case for less than an hour, they decided to award the victim, John Patrick Seigler, who was 17 years of age at the time of the accident, $60,000 for: pain, mental suffering, lost income, scarring, physical impairment, and medical costs. The jury also awarded Deigler $40,000 in punitive damages.
Scott Scherr, Seigler's personal injury lawyer, said, "It is rare for Brazos County juries to give punitive damages, which are basically punishment for what the jury considers egregious or bad behavior."
Scherr also stated that the employer, Fabric Care Cleaners, did not provide its employees with proper gloves, safety equipment, or the right training to handle the task of working with dangerous chemicals. Seigler's lawyer also pointed out that the chemicals did not have appropriate warning labels or instructions on how to handle them. Additionally, Scherr countered that his client was only 17 at the time of the accident, and should not have been working with or exposed to hazardous chemicals.
Seigler sustained his injuries on November 8, 2006 while he was working with liquid laundry soap. He was not given gloves or protective equipment by his employers and did not receive any training. Seigler thought he was simply pourng chemicals into a barrel of soap when the accident occurred. Soon after the accident happened, Seigler's skin began to bubble and to burn. When Seigler showed his injuries to his employers, they did not offer him any form of medical care.
According to legal documents filed with the court, Seigler now has permanent scars from the chemical burns and feels too embarrassed to wear shorts or sandals because people stare at him.
Fabric Care Cleaners is planning to file a motion to appeal the $100,000 verdict.
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